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Nasa’s Great Moonbuggy Race Innovative Student Projects

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.743.1 - 6.743.10



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Paper Authors

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Larry Williamson

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William Drake

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2526

NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race - Innovative Student Projects

William H. Drake, Larry Williamson Southwest Missouri State University/Pittsburg State University


The Society of Manufacturing Engineers student chapter at Southwest Missouri State University decided to follow the lead of another student group and build a “Moonbuggy” to race in the NASA sponsored “Great Moonbuggy Race” held annually at Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama. The first buggy was designed by a small team and constructed as a part of a senior level capstone course. The buggy completed the preliminary qualification run successfully but lost a drive chain on the second run. The second year a portion of the design was completed in an introductory design class. The class, working in teams, was able to develop a successful dual range drive system that allowed high torque for difficult obstacles and high speed for flat stretches. They were able to utilize the mechanics/statics that learned in a previous course.

The race is used as an integral part of courses at other institutions. Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas utilizes the race as a central part of their design curriculum. Each team of, from 5 to 6 students in the class, is required to design and build a buggy for the competition. This, plus the sponsorship of are industry, has resulted in some innovative use of materials ranging from titanium to space age composites.

The competition is a two-part event. One part is the race, which depends on durability and speed the second part deals with the documentation of the design and construction phase. This requires that students present a comprehensive review of the design and construction process. The students also become involved in assessing cost and of course in fund raising activities.

The Institutions

Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU) is a multi-campus metropolitan university system. The main campus at Springfield is home to the Department of Technology, which offers a bachelor of science degree in Industrial Management (IM) with concentrations in CADD, Construction, Electronics, and Manufacturing. The IM program enrolls about 300 students. Three courses have participated in this project: TEC 312 - Engineering Drafting Standards, TEC 417 – Computer Aided Design, TEC 530 – Advanced Manufacturing Technology. The Department also offers a Master of Science degree through the College of Natural and Applied Science with emphasis on project management.

Pittsburg State University (PSU) in Pittsburg, Kansas sets the regional standard for higher education in technology. In many of its technology programs, PSU is a recognized national leader.

Williamson, L., & Drake, W. (2001, June), Nasa’s Great Moonbuggy Race Innovative Student Projects Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9591

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